WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Claire is an attractive CIA operative and Ray is an M16 agent who simultaneously leave their Governmental spy activities in the dust to try and profit from a battle between two rival multi-national corporations both trying to launch a new product that will transform the world and make billions. Their goal is to secure the top-secret formula and get a patent before they are outsmarted. While their respective egomaniacal CEOs engage in an unending battle of wills and one-upmanship Claire and Ray start out conning and playing one another in a clever game of industrial espionage that is even more complicated due to their own long-term romantic relationship.
WHO’S IN IT?
Reuniting Closer co-stars Julia Roberts (as Claire) and Clive Owen (as Ray) turns out to be an inspired idea. They turn out to be the perfect pair oozing movie-star charm and electricity in this elaborate con-game that might have been the kind of thing Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant might have made in the '60s (in fact they did in Charade). Roberts with that infamous hairstyle back the way we like it and Owen looking great in sunglasses prove they have what it takes to navigate us through this ultra-complex plot in which no one is sure who they can trust at any given moment. They play it all in high style and the wit just flows as the story skirts back and forth during the period of five years. The supporting cast is well-chosen with juicy roles for Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti (out of their John Adams duds) as the two CEOs going for each other’s throats. Giamatti who sometimes has a tendency to overdo it is especially slimy here and great fun to watch.
Big-star studio movies today rarely take risks and often talk down to the audience but in Duplicity writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has crafted a complicated con-comedy that requires complete attention at all times just to keep up with the dense plot’s twists and turns. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a New York Times crossword puzzle and Gilroy and his top-drawer production team deliver a glossy beautiful-looking film that’s easy on the eyes hitting locations from Dubai to Rome to New York City.
Like any good puzzle it sometimes can be frustrating putting it all together and Gilroy’s habit of taking us back in time and then inching forward gets a little confusing even with the on-screen chyron pointing out where we are at any given moment. Stick with it though and you will be well-rewarded.
A scene near the end where the formula must be found scanned and faxed in a matter of minutes is sweat-inducing edge-of-your-seat moviemaking and it provides the ultimate opportunity for Roberts and Owen to take the “con” to the next level. Another where Roberts uses a thong to try and trick Owen into admitting an affair he never had is also priceless and gets right to the heart of the game-playing.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
Never. Stock up during the coming attractions. If you miss a moment of this entertaining romp you might never figure it all out.
Despite three new wide releases this weekend, kid pic Finding Nemo surprisingly found its way back to the top of the box office--and with a significant lead. The Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios computer-animated fish tale took in a strong $29.2 million, beating out this week's dumber, deader and faster options.
Nemo's still-weighty take was enough to beat last week's box office topper, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which settled in at No. 2 with $19.1 million. The high-octane actioner, however, stayed a lap ahead of the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty, which landed in third place with $14.2 million.
With its broad appeal and strong staying power, Nemo also snuffed-out this week's three new wide releases, Hollywood Homicide, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd and the animated feature Rugrats Go Wild.
Paramounts Pictures' Rugrats movie, which brings together Nickelodeon's animated franchises The Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, was hardly a match for Nemo. Oddly enough, the Nick pic garnered a PG rating for "mild crude humor," but unlike Nemo, it failed to appeal to adults and move beyond its target audience.
Ticket sales were slow this weekend compared to last year, but the box office should surge in next couple of weeks with the release of blockbusters such as The Hulk, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo jumped back to first place this week with an ESTIMATED $29.2 million (-37%) at 3,425 theaters (+34 theaters; $8,526 per theater). Its cume is approximately $192.3 million and headed for the $200 million mark.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated action-packed sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious fell back to No. 2 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $19.1 million (-62%) at 3,418 theaters (+10 theaters; $5,588 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84 million.
Directed by John Singleton, it stars Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and Devon Aoki.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty remained in third place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $14.2 million (-36%) at 3,477 theaters (-72 theaters; $4,084 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $193.8 million and headed for the $200 million mark.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Paramount's PG rated animated feature Rugrats Go Wild opened in the No. 4 spot with an ESTIMATED $12.5 million at 3,041 theaters with a $4,110 per theater average.
The movie revolves around Nickelodeon regulars the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, who team up to get off a deserted island. This third Rugrats feature failed to open as strongly as the first two installments. The original pic, The Rugrats Movie opened Nov. 20, 1998, with $27.3 million, while the second installment, Rugrats in Paris - The Movie, bowed into theaters Nov. 17, 2000, with $22.7 million.
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, it features the voices of Michael Bell, Jodi Carlisle, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Melanie Chartoff, Cheryl Chase, Tim Curry, Elizabeth Daily and Bruce Willis.
Sony Picture's PG-13 cop comedy Hollywood Homicide failed to make a splash and premiered in fifth place with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million at 2,840 theaters with a $4,120 per theater average.
In the film, a veteran police detective and his fresh-faced partner are more interested in their side jobs than in the high-profile gangland-style murder they are currently investigating.
Directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett.
New Line's PG-13 comedy Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd opened in sixth place with a disappointing ESTIMATED take of $11 million at 2,609 theaters with a $4,241 per theater average.
Set in 1986, the film is a prequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle Dumb & Dumber, and reveals how mentally challenged best friends Harry and Lloyd became pals.
Directed by Troy Miller, it stars Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated actioner The Italian Job dropped three notches to seventh in its third week with an ESTIMATED $9.5 million (-28%) at 2,697 theaters (-180 theaters; $3,522 per theater). Its cume is approximately $$55.2 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.
Warner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded fell three places to No. 8 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $5.5 million (-40%) at 2,350 theaters (-875 theaters; $2,347 per theater). Its cume is approximately $257.2 million.
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
Sony Pictures' PG-rated Daddy Day Care slipped three notches to No. 9 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $2.1 million (-54%) at 1,982 theaters (-731 theaters; $1,060 per theater). Its cume is approximately $92.2 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it stars Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston.
Rounding out the Top 10 is 20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated X2: X-Men United. The comic book flick took in an ESTIMATED $1.6 million (-47%) at 1,311 theaters (-739 theaters; $1,1,220 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $207.1 million.
Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
Miramax's R rated romantic comedy Jet Lag opened in two theaters with an ESTIMATED $20,000 with a $10,000 per theater average.
The film focuses on a world-renowned chef and a beautician who strike up an unusal relationship at a Paris airport.
Directed by Daniele Thompson, it stars Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $118.5 million, down 24 percent from last week's take of $156.5 million.
The Top 12 were also down 23 percent from last year's $155.8 million total.
Last year, Warner Bros.' PG rated Scooby-Doo premiered at the top of the box office with $54.1 million at 3,447 theaters ($15,711 per theater), while Universal's PG-13 rated The Bourne Identity debuted at No. 2 with $27.1 million in 2,638 theaters ($10,280 per theater); MGM's R rated Windtalkers opened in third place with $14.5 million at 2,898 theaters ($5,0010 per theater).
Looks like people were ready for more Middle-earth action.
As if anyone is truly surprised, the second installment of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the box office this weekend with its continuing tale about some good-hearted Hobbits who want to destroy an evil Ring, while a bunch of nasty Middle-earth denizens try and stop them.
Over the three-day weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in a whopping $61.5 million*, towering over the number two spot captured by the new Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant film Two Weeks Notice. The romantic comedy only managed to take in about a quarter of The Two Towers' haul at $14.4 million.
Other openers this week included another epic saga, Gangs of New York, which came in fourth with $9.1 million and the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened strong at number six with a respectable $6.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opened with an amazing three-day weekend total, ESTIMATED at $61.5 million at 3,6 22 theaters ($16, 980 per theater) and also taking in almost half of the weekend's box office (46.4 percent). Since its Wednesday, Dec. 18, opening, the film has brought in an ESTIMATED $101.5 million in total over five days.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
The middle part to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary fantasy epic clearly surpassed its predecessor by nearly 25 percent. On the same weekend last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas, took in $47.2 million in three days. The film went on to pull in $94 million after its first five days, eventually grossing $313 million in North America and about $550 million overseas, according to Variety.
The Two Towers also posted the second highest domestic Wednesday opening ever, with a healthy $26 million, behind 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at $28.5 million, according to New Line. Fellowship of the Ring was the previous holder of the December one-day record, opening with $18.2 million.
"We are pleased and astounded," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman told Variety of The Two Towers performance.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14.4 million at 2,755 theaters ($5, 229 per theater).
Directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This romantic comedy about a corporate lawyer's love/hate relationship with her boss is Bullock's second best opening in the last five films she has made. Her best opening was this summer's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which opened with a strong $16.1 million and went on to gross $69.5 million domestically. Bullock's top film Miss Congeniality opened to the smaller tune of $10 million in December 2000 but grossed $106.8 million domestically, proving the comedic actress has the star power to open films strong--and keep them that way.
The third spot belonged to Sony Pictures' Maid in Manhattan, this season's other romantic comedy, which opened last weekend at number one. Falling 41 percent, it still managed to rake in an ESTIMATED $11 million at 2,866 theaters (+28 theaters; $3,838 per theater). It's cume to date is approximately $35.5 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Guess a historical period piece about 1860s New York can't beat Hobbits or romance. Miramax's highly anticipated R-rated Gangs of New York opened with a less-than-exciting ESTIMATED $9.1 million at 1,504 theaters ($6,064 per theater). Still, with the film's recent slate of Golden Globe nominations, the momentum should give Gangs a fair amount of shelf life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
20th Century Fox's drum showstopper PG-13 rated Drumline continued to boom at number five with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-40%) at 1,837 theaters ($4,137 per theater). The little-film-that-could about an underdog high school band opened at No. 3 last week and has so far gained a respectable $22.8 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
Another new flick on the block this weekend was Paramount Pictures' PG-rated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,025 per theater).
Based on the hit Nickelodeon TV show, the animated film about a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers, is directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath and includes the vocal talents of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Chortling in at number seven is Disney's PG-13 rated The Hot Chick, taking in an ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($2,030 per theater). Dropping 39 percent, the body-switching comedy bowed last week in fifth place and has made approximately $13.7 million thus far.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams.
Warner Bros. PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped a couple of notches to No. 8 with an ESTIMATED $4.45 million (-30%) at 2,750 theaters (-275 theaters; $1,620 per theater). The second movie about our fab boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts has managed to eke out approximately $228.9 million in its six weeks at the box office. Not too shabby.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith.
The once-popular franchise seems to have lost its steam. Paramount Pictures PG-13 rated Star Trek: Nemesis continued its disappointing run, slipping from its bow at second place last weekend to ninth with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-76%) at 2,711 theaters ($1,623 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.4 million.
Directed by Stuart Baird, it stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis.
Tenth place belongs to Bond, James Bond. MGM's megahit, PG-13 rated Die Another Day, continued reaping the rewards with an ESTIMATED $4 million, dropping 49 percent at 2,075 theaters (-1,302 theaters; $1,928 per theater). One of the highest-grossing Bond films ever, its taken in approximately $138.4 million so far.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens and Rick Yune.
Three of the higher-profile independent films of the season opened in limited theaters this weekend, including Denzel Washington's Antwone Fisher, Spike Lee's 25th Hour and Narc starring Ray Liotta.
Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Antwone Fisher opened Thursday in 15 theaters at an ESTIMATED $217,500 ($14,500 per theater). The film, about a man struggles to come to terms with his abusive childhood, is directed by the Oscar-winning Washington, who also stars along with newcomer Derek Luke. Fisher will open wide Jan. 1.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour also opened Thursday in 5 theaters and took in an ESTIMATED $109,811 ($21, 962 per theater). The intense drama focuses on a drug dealer's last 24 hours before he goes to prison and how he chooses to spend it. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox. The film opens wide Jan. 10.
Paramount's Narc opened in 6 theaters Friday, making an ESTIMATED $66,000 ($11,000 per theater). The gritty drama stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as two undercover narcotics detectives after a cop killer.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $132 million, up 46.4 percent from last weekend.
This time last year, New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was number one at the box office with $47.2 million, while Warner Bros. Ocean's Eleven came in second with $14.7 million and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius third with $13.8 million.
*All estimates as reported by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.